Data Collection and Mapping of Sewered and Unsewered Areas
Purpose of the Project
One of the projects from NEFCO’s current water quality contract with the Ohio EPA is to assist the agency in collecting data and information on unsewered areas in the NEFCO region. Ohio EPA will use this information as it determines how to allocate funding to provide sewer connections and home sewage treatment system (HSTS) upgrades for identified areas in the Region. This multi-year collaborative project is ongoing in each of the six Ohio Areawide Planning Agencies regions. Biweekly meetings are being held with the Areawides’ water quality staff and staff from the Ohio EPA to refine what information is needed, and if that data exists or needs to be collected. Eventually, the data will be mapped electronically via NEFCO’s geographic information system (GIS) and provided to Ohio EPA.
Ohio EPA’s goal is to gather information for identified ‘problem areas’ which lack access to sanitary sewers. The agency will use this and other information in its decision-making process to distribute funds for sewer extensions/connections to areas that are at or below the federal poverty level (disadvantaged areas). Funds may also be available for extending sewer to mobile home parks (MHPs) with ‘package’ (wastewater treatment) plants. Ohio EPA wants to be able to quickly assess where the MHPs are in relation to existing sanitary sewer and the distribution of problem areas in identified disadvantaged areas. This information will be used by the Ohio EPA in the determination of funding (federal or state) for future sanitary sewer projects.
The collaborating partners involved with this project are NEFCO and the five other Ohio Areawide Planning Agencies, and the Ohio EPA. The local agencies that are assisting NEFCO by providing data on sewer lines and priority areas for needed sewer connections are the wastewater management agencies (sewer authorities), county and city health departments, and other regional stakeholders.
To pay for this project, NEFCO is using funds from one of the two annual water quality management planning contracts it has with the Ohio EPA. This Ohio EPA contract utilizes federal funds that Ohio EPA receives from U.S. EPA for the development of studies and plans to reduce water pollution, especially from nutrients.
NEFCO’s role is to coordinate data collection and analyses that have been requested by the Ohio EPA for the Region, and to interact in the collection of this data with NEFCO’s local agencies and governments. NEFCO will provide Ohio EPA with the following geographic information system (GIS) data and mapping:
- Areas currently served with sanitary sewers within Portage, Stark, Summit, and Wayne Counties
- Currently available sewer line data
- Any priority areas for sewer connections identified by regional stakeholders, including the county and city health departments, and sewer authorities
- Any other available data that will assist Ohio EPA’s wastewater management decision making, such as sewer availability and accessibility, current wastewater treatment system improvement plans and progress, and system capacity
NEFCO’s role is also to support Ohio EPA’s efforts to collect the following data for our Region:
- Disadvantaged communities
- Housing density
- Median home value
- Water quality impairments
- Mobile home parks and package plants with NPDES compliance issues
Progress to Date
This collaborative project began on July 1, 2021. For the next several months, NEFCO staff collected the data needed for the project from the local health districts, the wastewater management agencies (MAs), and Ohio EPA, and participated in project meetings with the other Areawide Planning Agencies and Ohio EPA Central Office staff. The affected MAs with wastewater jurisdiction in the priority unsewered areas (PUAs) identified by the health districts for this mapping project, agreed that the health districts’ priority areas are the MAs’ priorities, provided the MAs have a voice in scheduling any sewer projects resulting from funding being made available from this mapping project. On May 26, 2022, NEFCO staff attended a final collaborative mapping project meeting with the other Areawides and Ohio EPA to discuss the status of each Areawide’s deliverables, final deliverables, the timeline for completing the project, and delivering the product to Ohio EPA’s Central Office. On June 22, 2022, NEFCO’s GIS staff provided the shapefiles of the entire NEFCO region’s PUAs to Ohio EPA’s GIS staff, who confirmed receipt on June 29, 2022, thus finalizing this project.